• The FUEL Report 2014

    FUEL2_Report_2014Last May we convened over 400 business leaders, designers, technologists, entrepreneurs and citizens to discuss the social, environmental and technological shifts of our time.

    The event was a live experiment. Over the last seven months, we have studied the work we need to do to move it beyond the event forum. One of the products of this exploration is The FUEL Report – a summary of the ideas and discussions shared at the 2014 forum, links to presentations, participant feedback and further insights into what we learned.

    Read the report

    Looking back at the first FUEL has generated questions we’d like to share with you as we continue forward:

    How do we embrace societal, technological and environmental shifts
    to improve the way we live and work?

    How can we work better with other sectors to improve the impact
    of our own work?

    How does sharing community data and stories improve our city?

    How do we know we’re really making making things better?

    These questions require new partnerships between private, public, community and individuals and we need change at all levels. Our city has an opportunity to chart a path forward that represents the values we want to live by and I invite you to join me to shape a movement I believe is positive and possible.

    Our journey has been collaborative from the start and our partners THNKThe City of VancouverEmily Carr UniversityVancity and BCPSI  helped make the first forum a reality.

    Happy Reading!
    Jane Cox
    Director of FUEL Vancouver

  • Announcing the First Annual Vancouver Design Week

    “Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives. It influences the outcome of almost everything we do, often without our being aware it has done so. . . yes despite its power, design is frequently treated as if it didn’t matter by being trivialized, misunderstood and undervalued…”

    – Alice Rawsthorn, Design Critic, New York Times

    Vancouver Design Week
    September 15 – 28, 2014

    Vancouver is home to a long list of world-class designers and innovators, and punches far above its weight in terms of creating ideas that have spread across the world.

    An outsider looking into our city would probably assume that we had a bright, vibrant and celebrated design community. Yet many of our great designers are unknown, undervalued and disconnected. 

    Vancouver Design Week was designed to redress this. It’s a city-wide festival to celebrate established and emergent design talent; to spotlight design innovation in all its forms; to cross-pollenate and empower designers across disciplines.

    Programming will be broad and include talks, tours, awards, workshops, open houses, exhibits, parties and pop ups. Some events will be intimate affairs and some will be large scale celebrations.

    Our role in Vancouver Design Week 

    Our very own Jane Cox is a co-director of Vancouver Design Week, working closely with director Jennifer Cutbill, an intern architect at Dialog and Board Member of LoHA who has been leading the charge to create a special week to celebrate design in our city.

    As key partners of Vancouver Design Week, Cause+Affect designed its brand and communications assets including the website alongside the great people at Denim and Steel.

    PechaKucha Night Vol. 34 as part of Vancouver Design Week

    As part of Vancouver Design Week, we are holding a Special Edition PechaKucha Night on Sept 18th. Twelve local design thinkers of diverse backgrounds will share their stories and inspirations as we explore the many ways to consider ‘design’.

    PK34_Web_finalTickets for PechaKucha Night Vol. 34 will go on sale Thursday, August 21 at 10:00AM at the Vogue Theatre and Northern Tickets.

    Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to get the latest news, including the announcement of speakers and band.

  • INTRODUCING: Wallflower Gin from Odd Society Spirits

    Allow us to introduce the newest spirit from Odd Society Spirits: Wallflower Gin is now ready to imbibe and we are very proud to have provided its name, packaging design and copywriting.

    Like East Van Vodka and Odd Society’s Crème de Cassis, Wallflower Gin turned out to be one of the most interesting spirits of its kind and we can’t recommend it enough.

    About the name and design

    The name Wallflower comes from two concepts. The first is the gin’s floral nature given the botanicals selected by distillers Gordon Glanz and Joshua Beach, including its namesake the coastal wallflower.

    The second concept revolves around Wallflower as a character we imagined the gin to represent. A shy coastal beauty, Wallflower prefers intimate conversations over being the centre of attention. She quietly observes rather than brashly acts. Wallflower is wise, elegant and enigmatic. Think Athena at a dinner party.

    We expressed the Wallflower character through a shapely vessel with a rich and regal purple and silver label with floral embellishments to evoke the classic flourishes of Old World designs, but with a modern take ­to tell the story of Odd Society’s commitment to tradition in the face of its need to innovate.

    This complex story is told in full when you bring the gin to your lips.

    About Wallflower Gin

    You have not tasted gin like this before.

    Unlike most gins which are made by adding botanicals to neutral grain spirit, Wallflower is made from the grain up with a BC-grown barley spirit infused with botanicals from around the world and our own back yard through a combination of two gin-making methods – called maceration and vapour extraction, if you want to get technical.

    It’s a complicated process that took a lot of research and trial and error to develop, but one that is well worth it.

    “Because we make our gin from scratch, we have a greater understanding of each ingredient,” says distiller Joshua Beach. “Making this gin took a great amount of research, patience and care as we wanted to distinguish the delicate nuances of each floral component.” (From Scout Magazine)

    Early reviews of Wallflower Gin have been wildly positive, and we can attest that it is sensational, especially in a gin and tonic. According to its creators, Wallflower ‘starts with a floral nose, followed by a strong juniper body and ends with a slight spicy, peppery finish.’

    Get your bottle at Odd Society Spirits’ distillery and lounge as well as select liquor stores. Don’t forget to ask for it at your favourite bars and restaurants and be on the lookout for Odd Society at your local farmer’s market. 

    Read about the packaging design and copywriting for all of Odd Society Spirits




  • BRAND LAUNCH: Fresh Roots

    Fresh Roots brand

    Fresh Roots grows communities by growing food. They use urban agriculture to turn underused spaces into places where everyone can gather to enjoy the foods that unite us.

    You may have heard of their schoolyard market gardens, the first of their kind in Canada and a big reason why Fresh Roots received the Vancouver Award of Excellence in Greenest City Leadership this year out of over 130 other organizations.

    Developed with the Vancouver School Board, the schoolyard market gardens are commercially productive gardens on school grounds. The food they produce goes to the school cafeteria, local restaurants and the community through on-site markets and a veggie box program. The market gardens themselves also serve as outdoor, hands-on classrooms with professional development for teachers hosted by Fresh Roots.

    We were lucky enough to work with Fresh Roots to develop their brand strategy and visual identity to elevate their awareness and credibility to help them attract more partners so they can create more community market gardens.

    The Fresh Roots brand was built on three core concepts:

    People before plants

    The most important thing to understand about Fresh Roots is that growing community is the end goal. Food and gardens are just the best means to get there.

    Therefore, the brand had to lead with human life interacting with food. Photos of veggies popping up out of neatly planted rows may be beautiful, but they don’t tell the Fresh Roots story. Fresh Roots is hands in the dirt, people sharing food, cooking together, telling stories. It’s the relationship around the growing of food that counts, not the act of growing.


    Earthworms, bookworms and … boardroom worms

    Another thing that sets Fresh Roots apart is their incredible capability in many different fields. They’re not just great farmers, they’re community builders, educational programmers, facilitators, policy makers and social entrepreneurs.

    They’re making change at all levels and the brand had to communicate this broad competence as one package in its language and imagery.

    Joie de vivre

    The Fresh Roots brand also had to be fun. It had to be passionate. It had to represent the deep, deep joy that the Fresh Roots team brings to all it takes on. We wanted the colours to smile and laugh just like the people it stands for.

    Joy of Fresh Roots

    Fresh Roots is an incredible organization and we can’t say enough good things about their work. Now that they’re equipped with a brand that reflects their values and personality, they can tell their story to more people and bring more communities together through the the joys of growing food.

    See the project page for more images.


  • CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Protect Our Great Bear Sea

    We are proud to announce the launch of the Protect Our Great Bear Sea campaign we created for the David Suzuki Foundation, WWF Canada, Living Oceans Society and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

    It’s our first opportunity to work with these incredible organizations and we’re honoured to help them with a cause we deeply believe in – the conservation of our oceans.

    BC Needs a Plan for Our Ocean 

    The campaign asks British Columbians to support the plan to protect the Great Bear Sea, one of the richest marine ecosystems left on the planet.

    Over the past few years, the Province of B.C and 18 First Nations have been working in partnership to make plans to protect the Great Bear Sea, creating zones of wildlife protection, ecosystem protection as well as ecotourism, aquaculture and renewable energy zones.

    It’s a desperately needed plan, particularly given the recent Enbridge approval. Currently only 3% of the Great Bear Sea is protected and without a plan this world treasure could be spoiled by overfishing, ocean acidification, climate change and pollution.

    This summer, the B.C. Provincial Government will meet to decide whether to adopt these plans to protect our Great Bear Sea. This campaign seizes on a historic opportunity to hold our elected officials to their commitments and put a long-lasting plan in place for our ocean ecosystems.

    Send a message to the Government of B.C. that British Columbians want a planned and protected Great Bear Sea.

    Make Leonardo DiCaprio proud. He just pledged $7 million towards the establishment of marine reserves on the same day President Obama announced he would expand marine sanctuary protections in the Pacific.

    About the Campaign

    You are likely inundated with environmental campaigns. We know we are. Not that we’re complaining. We are in a important fight – one that will define our times. But sometimes the fervour, the negativity, the doom and gloom can all blur together.

    The Protect Our Great Bear Sea campaign was designed to be positive and fun to differentiate it from the crowd. The plan to protect our Great Bear Sea has been developed already – we just want to make sure it goes through with the proper amount of ecosystem protection. With a slight nudge, we think British Columbians would be eager to let their elected officials know that they care and that they’re paying attention.

    To encourage that, we wanted people to think about the future of our ocean not in the abstract, but through the love they have for their children and their own emotional attachment to the Great Bear Sea.

    The ocean provides so much for British Columbians. It shapes our culture, fuels our economy, is a source of joy and inspiration. It defines who we are.

    We felt that the ‘Kids’ dreams for our future’ ads tapped into that. They’re being shared widely over social media by our clients and can be seen on billboards, buses and bus shelters in Vancouver and Victoria so they’ll be seen by key decision makers.

    In late July, we’ll release a video component to the campaign, which we’re currently working on with the talented men of Salazar.

    Stay tuned for more to come and Send a message to Protect Our Great Bear Sea.

  • The Creation of FUEL, The Future of Urbanity, the Environment and our Lifestyle. For-profit, Non-Profit, Social Enterprise? Our search for the model that works for us.

    Jane and I founded Cause+Affect 10 years ago and our work has always fallen in two different but overlapping categories.

    On one hand, there is the brand, design and communications work we do for private clients. This is how we pay the bills and are lucky enough to work with clients we admire, on projects we believe in.

    On the other hand, we create our own initiatives and projects to fulfill our own creative desires. These projects – such as Movers and Shapers, KeytoVan, PechaKucha Night and, most recently, FUEL – have focused on adding to the culture of Vancouver, highlighting the people that are doing good work and, most importantly, physically bringing people together to inspire community.

    These projects have always fallen under the Cause+Affect corporate brand as they support our overall vision and values. The big difference between these and our other projects is that they have a very different client – the general public.

    Can you do good work as a for-profit entity?

    In our early days, we discussed the creation of a not-for-profit arm of Cause+Affect to take on these public-facing projects. It seemed like the right thing to do based on our limited understanding of business models and our belief that these projects were for the greater good, not profit.

    We quickly discovered that the not-for-profit structure was actually quite time consuming and didn’t match the entrepreneurial “just do it and see what happens” nature of our agency. Long lead-time grant applications, committees, boards and other bureaucracy challenged the way we liked to do things and we found that we could do more and do it more efficiently under our existing business structure.

    But this meant that we were doing “good work” in an entrepreneurial fashion, which brings its own set of challenges – mostly risk.

    What if you build it and they don’t come?

    See, there is little risk when you have a grant in place. Yes, there is the risk that you won’t get it ever again, but you have certain guarantees in the meantime. With our work, the only way we survive is if people show up to our events. This means that we have challenged ourselves to satisfy two different objectives: satisfy the needs of the client (the audience) AND our own personal goals of making change.

    Another challenge is that our corporate structure can distract people from our good intentions with discussions around profit-making. The success of PechaKucha night, for example, has led people to suspect that we are generating vast sums of money from what is intended to be a non-profit event.

    The reality is quite different. We actually calculate our production costs based on 1/2 rate fees of our staff, with Jane and I volunteering our time. At these rates, only a sell out event will allow us to break even with those costs or run the event non-profit.

    This is only possible if we sell every single ticket. If we fill just half the seats, we absorb the cost.

    The success of PechaKucha Night has been a wonderful opportunity for us and we have greatly benefited from it and are grateful. But it is not a profit-making venture.

    Could FUEL turn profit into fuel for social innovation?

    With the launch of FUEL, we are thinking differently. We want FUEL to be a vehicle for action. That action needs funding and we want FUEL to be able to provide that funding.

    Therefore, we have structured FUEL as a social enterprise – an undertaking that can be for-profit, but focuses on addressing social issues and seeks to provide systemic solutions to achieve a sustainable, social objective.

    While a business entrepreneur measures performance in profit and return, we will measure FUEL’s success in terms of the impact we have and its ability to use profit and return for the greater good.

    As FUEL grows and eventually (hopefully) makes a profit, we want to work with our community to put that profit to use. We envision a FUEL fund to distribute funding across initiatives developed through the event series.

    But for now, we are concentrating on trying to build a sustainable business model….walking before we can run.

    We hope to see you May 29 at the Vancouver Playhouse for FUEL Day 1 and at the many events to come.


  • Faces of FUEL

    FUEL is less than 3 weeks away, and tickets are going fast!

    Please remember, Day 1 and Day 2 are different formats and can be purchased separately. We completely understand that 2 days is a lot to ask of our entrepreneurial culture. For that reason, we have designed two very different experiences. Choose what suits you best.

    Here are 3 reasons to join us at FUEL:

    1. We all go to events in our own sectors. Green events, food events, tech events, design events. Its comfortable and we know many of the folks in the room. FUEL is your opportunity to get out of your silo and talk about broader shared issues. Fish folks talking to design folks? Something interesting is bound to happen!
    2. Understanding innovation means understanding creativity, FUEL is the beginning of the C-School State of Mind. This is your chance to immerse yourself in both Day 1 and Day 2 to get the full experience!
    3. If you don’t know the faces on this poster below, you should come out and hear their insights and then join them for a drink at the end of the night!

    Faces of FUEL

    This event is for small businesses, leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate intra-preneurs, and engaged citizens who want to know what’s coming next, harness creativity and drive innovation.
    As Keith Sawyer shows in Group Genius, there is a persistent myth of the lone inventor, of the great genius slaving away in obscurity. But this is, indeed, a myth. Innovation usually comes from group interaction, from cross-fertilization between team-members and from rapid feedback cycles. Creativity happens in teams…

    Want to know more on what expect from FUEL Day 1? Check out these two posts.

    1. FUEL Shifts and Daytime Programming
    2. FUEL Dialogues & Evening Programming

    Friends of FUEL
  • Robin Chase of Zipcar and Alex Gilliam of Public Workshop to deliver keynotes at FUEL


    For us, FUEL is more than an event series. It is a tool to examine the world around us and seek answers to big questions like, “where do we want to go as society?” and “how will we get there?” But most importantly, FUEL is a forum to bring together a community in real physical space and time to share ideas and stories.

    Our FUEL Manifesto:
    Inspiration makes you act

    It is our belief that a community that is inspired will engage creatively and collaboratively to improve the way we live, work and play. Through initiatives like FUEL, we plan to positively affect the future of Vancouver and its citizens by improving public awareness and active participation around important global issues that are locally relevant.

    We also strongly believe that we do not have the answers and it is not our role to provide them. Our role is to collaborate on the creation of a platform and curate its content. After that, an organic process begins that is impossible to predict.

    We knew that we couldn’t build FUEL without your input, so over the last three months we have asked about the issues that matter most to you. We received a generous amount of feedback about the topics that you would like to inform FUEL. The majority of feedback consistently fell into two major topic areas:

    “Innovation through the disruption of traditional business models” 


    “Community engagement and the search for authentic city building”  

    We take your feedback seriously and we were able to secure two incredible speakers to bookend FUEL Day One on May 29.

    Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar, Buzzar and Peers Inc.
    From Boston, Massachusetts


    Robin Chase will deliver a keynote on the collaborative economy. Also known as the “sharing economy,” it continues to gather steam both globally and locally. What could be viewed as a return to more traditional values is actually a trend leveraging technology like never before to take advantage of the excess that exist in our society.

    Read a full interview with Robin Chase at Vancouver Is Awesome

    Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop
    From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    FUEL Keynote Speaker Alex Gilliam

    Alex Gilliam is the founder of Public Workshop, an organization dedicated to helping individuals, schools and communities achieve great things through design.

    His keynote will focus on Great Lessons for Inspiring Civic Innovation, something he has developed an expertise on through his work in diverse communities across the United States.

    Read a full interview with Alex Gilliam at Vancouver is Awesome

    More announcements to come!

    We have much, much more planned for FUEL Day One and will be sharing more about our speakers over the next few weeks. Keep up to date with FUEL over Facebook and Twitter.

    Visit our Picatic site for more information about the FUEL program and to buy your tickets before they sell out. We expect a full house based on tickets sales so far so act now while they last!

  • BRAND LAUNCH: Fairware

    Fairware Changemaker Mugs
    58 billion coffee cups are disposed of in the US each year, but use a travel mug 24 times and you can beat the life cycle impacts of a paper cup. 

    SWAG or Stuff We All Get – things like pens, t-shirts, paper cups, flyers –  is everywhere.

    It’s especially found in our landfills and it’s usually made through unethical labour. If we can influence the way companies buy promotional products and change our own behaviour towards swag, we can make a big effect on our environment and supply chain.

    Fairware Cover image

    Enter Fairware – a Vancouver company changing the way we buy and use swag.

    Fairware are North America’s leading experts on promotional products made to the highest ethical and environmental standards. But they do more than just sell good swag: They design custom promotional campaigns for great clients like Aveda, Patagonia, Nature’s Path and MEC as well as help their clients make the most ethical and sustainable sourcing decisions.

    Unfortunately, Fairware’s old brand led people to believe that they were simply an online store for great promo materials. The most important stories were getting buried under all the swag.

    Our Work for Fairware

    We worked with Fairware as equal parts strategic brand consultants and designers to move them beyond an online store to an agency of experts that can help their clients make meaningful connections with their audience through thoughtful promotional materials. We helped them evolve from sustainability advocates to sustainability experts, making them more capable of effecting positive change.

    Fairware Before and After Brand comparison

    Fairware Brand Collateral

    And we made them look damn good too. We updated their entire brand aesthetic to communicate their expertise, sophistication and fun-loving nature. A new logotype and revised supporting mark, colour palette, photo treatment and updated language formed a brand that was about more than just good stuff – it’s about the conversation between people and companies about the products we too often take for granted and banish to our landfills.

    See more on our Project Page

    Read their announcement on their great blog

  • Gold Medal Award for East Van Vodka’s Packaging Design at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

    San Francisco World Spirits Competition Medallion ArtworkWe’re proud to announce that Odd Society Spirits have just won a gold medal for our packaging design for East Van Vodka at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – the world’s most respected spirit competitions.

    East Van Vodka was among 200 entries and the judges paid particular attention to “the creativity of design, detail and overall congruity.”

    East Van Vodka also won a Silver Medal in the blind tasting category, which was judged by 39 of the finest palates from the spirits industry alongside 1,474 other entries judged. We can’t wait to try their next spirit – Wallflower Gin – and to share the packaging design with you. Coming soon!

    In other recognition news, East Van Vodka has been featured on preeminent design packaging blogs – the Dieline and Lovely Package. We are indebted to local artist Shwa Keirstead for contributing his artwork of ‘Cornelius’ the owl.

    Odd Society Spirits